Bolt Action, Bolt Action - Italian, Gaming & Collecting

Frontline Report: Battlegroup Italia

no comments

With the release of Campaign: The Western Desert almost upon us, we asked our master metallurgist and head caster Pete H to show off his fantastic Battlegroup Italia and give us his thoughts on how to best use it in your games of Bolt Action.

Frontline Reports: Pete's Battlegroup Italia

Battlegroup Italia

G’day and Ciao Warlord aficionados!

Welcome to my take on a kick arse Italian battle group.

Why Italians you ask?

Look at these photos and tell me that’s not some cool stuff there! Add some hard as nails infantry with a field gun or two and you are formidable.


Besides, it is a game we play not real life, can you guarantee your next 2d6 roll?!

I’ve watched for 4 turns as a tank and an SPG shot at each other across the table and neither could hit a high note let alone the other vehicle!

Picture of Pete's Battlegroup

I would like to see a game with just the Italian version of the LRDG/SAS and the established British LRDG/SAS’ it would need to be a big table game. I say this because it needs to be a game of movement in my opinion. If you take on the challenge send me some photos and opinions.

The vehicles look great when painted up, even by an amateur like myself, and nobody else will have them so you will be the envy of your gaming compatriots.(That last bit might not be entirely true).

Let go of your prejudices and enjoy our hobby on an increasingly wider view, you know it makes sense.

The Battlegroup

  • Semovente 47/32 Command Tank with additional forward-facing MMG (Veteran) 102pts
  • Semovente 75/18 with additional forward-facing MMG (Veteran) 219pts
  • Semovente 75/18 with additional forward-facing MMG (Veteran) 219pts
  • Sahariana with forward and rear-facing MMGs and a light anti-tank gun (Veteran) 110 pts
  • Sahariana with forward and rear-facing MMGs and a light anti-tank gun (Veteran) 110 pts
  • Sahariana with forward and rear-facing MMGs and a pintle-mounted MMG (Veteran) 75 pts
  • Sahariana with forward and rear-facing MMGs and a pintle-mounted MMG (Veteran) 75 pts
  • Autoblinda 41 (Veteran) 126 pts
  • Autoblinda 41 (Veteran) 126 pts
  • M13/40 Medium Tank with additional turret mounted pintle-mounted MMG (Veteran) 167 pts
  • Pz. IIIL Medium Tank (Veteran) 234pts
  • Matilda II Infantry Tank (Veteran) 186 pts

The Italian Battle Group is around 1300 points, all are veterans and where possible additional weapons have been added.

There aren’t any infantry, yet. I will get around to painting some Bersagliari in sun hats with a field gun or two plus the Elephantino anti-tank gun and possibly a few captured British vehicles.

Including the Command vehicle in my Battle group gave it a focal point, and because I like the model.

Some German vehicles were added because the Panzer III is the quintessential tank silhouette, to me anyway.

The German Autoblinda was just a bit of fun and I am led to believe there were some Germans in Africa during the war.

I added the Mk2 Matilda as it is essential to any British/Commonwealth army. I have three in my Australian army and in my opinion they are simply magnificent. If you don’t have a Matilda get one, now!

History and Background

The Semovente 75/18

Semovente 75/18

The Semovente da 75/18 was an Italian self-propelled gun of the Second World War. It was built by mounting the 75 mm Obice da 75/18 modello 34 mountain gun on the chassis of a M13/40, M14/41 or M15/42 tank.

The first 60 were built using the M13/40 chassis and a subsequent 162 were built on the M14/41 chassis from 1941 to 1943, when the M15/43 chassis were introduced. The Semovente da 75/18 was intended to be an interim vehicle until the heavier P40 tank could be available.

Actual versions of Pete's Battlegroup in the desert

The most successful action fought by Semovente da 75/18 took place on 10 June 1942, south of Knightsbridge, during the Battle of Gazala. Thirty M3 Grant and ten M3 Stuart of 1st and 6th Royal Tank Regiment attacked a position held by the Ariete division but were repelled by Semovente da 75/18s as well as some M13/40s and gun trucks, losing three Grants and two Stuarts from 6th Royal Tank Regiment and twelve Grants and three Stuarts from 1st Royal Tank Regiment. The Italians lost two M13/40s.

Pete's Battlegroup in a desert scene

The AS42

Camionetta Desertica SPA-Viberti AS.42. A four-wheel-drive light truck specifically designed to operate in the desert, which entered service with Saharan units in November 1942. The Italians built the car on the same chassis as the AB.40/41 armoured car but did not armour it. The car was powered with a 100 hp gasoline engine and reached a maximum speed of 85 km/h.

It had racks on the sides to carry 24 jerry cans (mostly fuel) and carried a spare tire on the front hood. It could accommodate a crew of six and weapons such as the 20mm Breda cannon, the Cannone da 47/32 M35, the 20mm Solothurn S-18/100 anti-tank rifle, and up to three Breda mod. 37 machine guns.

Camionetta Desertica SPA-Viberti AS.42

The AS.42 was 1.49 meters high, 5.20 meters long and 1.80 meters wide.  Operational range was 300km to 1500km with spare fuel containers; speed was 84 kmh (52 mph). Pretty damn cool, eh?

The AB40/41/43

The Autoblinda 4041 and 43 (abbreviated AB 4041 and 43) were Italian armoured cars produced by Fiat-Ansaldo and which saw service mainly during World War II. Most autoblinde were armed with a 20 mm Breda 35 autocannon and a coaxial 8 mm machine gun in a turret similar to the one fitted to the Fiat L6/40, and another hull mounted rear-facing 8 mm machine gun.

The M13/40

M13/40 Tank

The Fiat-Ansaldo M13/40 was an Italian World War II tank designed to replace the Fiat L3, the Fiat L6/40 and the Fiat M11/39 in the Italian Army at the start of World War II. It was the primary tank used by the Italians throughout the war. The design was influenced by the British Vickers 6-Ton and was based on the modified chassis of the earlier Fiat M11/39.

Italian Tanks in the desert

Production of the M11/39 was cut short in order to get the M13/40 into production. The name refers to “M” for Medio (medium) according to the Italian tank weight standards at the time, 13 tonnes was the scheduled weight and 1940 the initial year of production.


An Italian convoy in a desert scene

In my opinion it doesn’t matter what army you use or how well you paint it, if the dice have abandoned you the result will not go well for you.

Our hobby allows for an infinite number of “what if” games which can be a lot of fun. So have a hard as nails tournament army but also take on an unfamiliar army and rediscover the fun of table-topping and the possibilities of the “what if” game. Not preaching, just saying.

When I ran a gaming club we did this type of gaming a lot and it made new gamers feel a little better about getting into the hobby and it helped the jaded veteran gamers rediscover their interest in the hobby. For the “beardy” types out there “what if” is not an option, their loss.

Remember, the light ATG on the Autoblinda, AS-42 and the M13/40 has a 48” range plus the M13/40 can have 4 MMG’s and the AS-42 can have 3 MMG’s or 2 MMG’s plus the light ATG.


An Italian convoy in a desert scene

I made all the vehicles from our high definition resin kits and the desert paint scheme won’t tax your painting abilities (it didn’t tax mine!). They look good, there are a wide variety of options with camouflage schemes and both sides weren’t shy about using captured gear.

Have a look at some photos of Major David Stirling’s SAS jeeps, no two are the same!

So shake off the working week and settle in to a weekend of creative, distinctive and enjoyable modelling.

Go on you’ve earned it!

Hidden Details

Each AS-42 crewman has a personal weapon to hand, each vehicle has a radio, one AS-42 has an ATR and one has a D.A.K. officer (not as a weapon, they didn’t like that, just because I could). The ATG’s and the sand channels on the AS-42’s were scratch-built.

The large perforated steel channels on the rear of two of the AS-42’s are for assisting with recovering a vehicle bogged in soft sand.

Wherever possible and reasonable my AFV’s have extra “padding” and extra weapons, well why not.

Signing Off

Give me a shout if you enjoyed this article!

Andare avanti!

Peter Hely, Caster Supremo

If you’ve been inspired by Pete’s outstanding collection of Italians, why not pick some up for yourself from our webstore.

This 1000pt Bersaglieri army gives you a core of veteran light infantry backed up by powerful artillery and anti-tank weapons.

1000pt Ityalian Bersaglieri Army

View in Store

Despite their complete lack of armour, these AS-42 scout cars pack a mean punch. They have a vast selection of anti-infantry and anti-tank weapons.

AS42 Sahariana

View in Store

The Semovente 75/18 self-propelled gun is a powerful addition to any Italian army. It has a versatile main armament that threatens both infantry and armoured vehicles.

Semovente 75/18 Assault Gun

View in Store

Tom Mecredy
Tom spends most of his time buying books and painting miniatures. He enjoys putting animals on the bases of his miniatures and half-finishing side projects. Some say that he lives in a tower on top of some windswept northern hill with his wife and cow-patterned cat, Spaghetti.